I’ve been asked a few times why I think feminism is still a “thing”. I don’t think it is or it ever was. That would suggest being a feminist and the feminist movement are just a fad. They are in fact a matter of life and death for some women and a matter of daily humiliation and being treated unfairly.
It’s 2017 and even in Europe women are still exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment or being considered to be less equal. I found that we tend to live in our own little bubbles, thinking it’s all good because these things often don’t happen to us or anyone in our close proximity. The other issue is we got used to it.
The Guardian published an article about how women are forced to work in really poor conditions and are often forced to endure rape and physical abuse, otherwise they’d lose their jobs and would also risk not finding work elsewhere. This is happening in Italy, a fundamentally Christian country, with so called values. In 2017. Women are scared to ask for help while forced into hard labour to feed their families. They might have some fundamental rights, like the right to vote but at the same time they are stripped of dignity and respect. In some countries women are still treated like objects and second-class citizens, having to ask for permission to do basic things such as driving, being banned from certain places like restaurants or having very limited options when it comes to education. And then we didn’t mention female genital mutilation or how in some countries it is still widely accepted for families to sell their daughters. Sometimes little girls no older than 12 years old are sold to men 3 or 4 times older than them. There were cases reported where girls died of internal bleeding after being repeatedly raped and beaten by their husbands. 12-13 old girls raped and beaten by their husbands in their 30s or 40s.
To stay closer to home and our civilised culture and our treasured values just think about the gender pay gap. It is now a well known and well documented fact that women are often paid less for the the same job. The Polish MEP’s statement saying that this is perfectly normal and women should of course earn less because they are weaker and smaller is alarming. This statement came from a man who is representing a country. An European country which supposedly has values.
Modern day feminism is a lot more complex than the initial movement was. Feminism is about equality and the fight for equality doesn’t end when women get the right to vote. It could be labelled as a trend and dismissed as something we no longer need if there was no discrimination against women in so called civilised countries too. Equality means that women, regardless of age, skin colour and choice of appearance can feel free and safe – not be told that they have to look after themselves to avoid harassment. Equality also means that women are judged based on their achievements not based on the height of heels or depth of necklines.
I don’t want to be judged based on gender and I don’t want stereotypes forced on me. I also don’t want to be told I have to have standards – and have those standards set by someone else. Women still have to keep their standards high but the same standards don’t seem to apply to men. Men are hardly ever told that they are weaker and less valuable than women. We don’t limit men to keep women safe or keep them from harassing women. In some countries men still have complete control over women. And even if we don’t look at all the very extreme examples, the patriarchy is still very much there, going strong.